Friday, March 27, 2015

Comparing Verdicchio of the Marche wine region

The Marche wine region in Italy is one of the regions I've discovered the least due to the lack of accessibility of wines.  Studying for this Italian wine exam has really opened my eyes to the world of Italian wines even further and has made it so much more exciting with the boat loads of information I have to share with you.  I've had people ask me “Don't you ever run out of material to write about?” It's hard for me not to laugh as I'll never run out of material to share with you with the amount of grapes and wineries all throughout Italy that are dying for us to explore them.
Garofoli winery in Le Marche wine region
Garofoli winery compliments of
At a recent tasting I sampled a Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superior from the Garofoli winery of the Marche region. The Garofoli winery is run by brothers Gianfranco and Carlo and the 5th generation to the Garofoli winery, their children Beatrice, Gianluca and Caterina.   Many of the missions and goals of the wineries that I've become acquainted with is to always introduce modern technologies in winemaking by trying to stay true to the traditions of the winemaking held within the family for years or even centuries. This philosophy is true also of the Garofoli family.
The Garofoli wine family of Le Marche
The Garofoli family ~ Compliments of
The Garofoli winery, that began in 1871, is a large producer averaging about 2 million bottles annually that sources grapes from their 4 vineyard sites as well as grape growers they have partnered with for years that provide them with grapes for their production.
Garofoli vineyards in Le March
Garofoli vineyards ~ Compliments of
There are two DOCG's of the Marche wine region producing Verdicchio wines: Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Riserva and the Verdicchio di Matelica.  The reason why the wine I'm sharing with you today isn't a DOCG is because it's specifically not a riserva.  There are some differences between the verdicchio wines produced in both of these areas.

Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi

  • Rounder and softer 
  • More approachable 
  • Longer aged  
  • Close to the sea
Verdicchio di Matelica
  • About 1/10 the size of Castelli di Jesi 
  • Sharper and higher acidity 
  • Rich in minerals due to an ancient sea bed
Found in the inland valley on the slopes of the Apennines
2012 Garofoli Macrina Verdicchio dei Castelli di JesiThe 2012 Garofoli Macrina Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore I sampled is vinified in one of the 2 Garofoli locations, Serra de' Conti, but aged in their winery at Castelfidardo.  The Verdicchio grapes from the classico DOC area of Jesi come from their vineyard site, Cupo delle Lame in the comune of Montecarotto.   This wine was bright and fresh. On the palate it's florally with ripe exotic fruit along with apples and peaches combined with minerality. It's a medium bodied wine.

What wineries have you discovered from this region or any favorite wines you'd like to share?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Sicilian wines with Antonio Moretti & Feudo Maccari

In two weeks on Saturday April 4th our Italian Food, Wine & Travel bloggers group (#ItalianFWT) will be featuring Sicily so I wanted to get everyone in the southern Italian mindset and share with you a wine that I recently had from the winery Feudo Maccari.

Sicily is the largest island of Italy at the tip of the boot. The climate here is Mediterranean and one of the hottest, arid conditions for grape growing. There are also the influences of the winds from the north as well as the hot African scrirocco winds that help to prevent diseases and mitigate the hot climate.

Feudo Maccari is located in the Val di Noto, a UNESCO world heritage site found near Ragusa and Siracusa at the southwestern tip of Sicily. A special feature of the wine produced here is due to the black volcanic soil that is rich and fertile. The winery uses the alberello method,also known as bush training, which is traditional to use in Sicily where the vines are close to the ground and not trellised. It helps create maximum sun exposure with the leaves covering and protecting the grapes and phenolic substances.

Landscape of Noto, Sicily
Landscape of Noto, Sicily
Owner, Antonio Moretti, has focused his passion on his 3 wineries: Tenuta Sette Ponti located in Arezzo (Tuscany), Poggio al Lupo in the Maremma (Tuscany) and lastly Feudo Maccari which he began with his daughter Monica Moretti. They started producing wine at Feudo Maccari in the late 90's when they combined with a number of owners 50 plots of lands, about 250 acres, for their winemaking around the town of Noto. The winery also possesses 3 estate vineyards: Maccari, Vendicari Guaranaschelli and Bufalefi.

2011 Feudo Maccari Saia Nero d'Avola

One of the grapes of Sicily that is largely planted throughout and is one of the prominent red grapes is Nero d'Avola. I wanted to share the 2011 Feudo Maccari Saia Nero d'Avola IGT that I tasted. The name of the wine “Saia” is actually an Arabic word named after the irrigation canals of Sicily. They began producing this wine in 2002. It's a 100% produced with nero d'avola grapes aged in french oak. This wine has been a highly rated 90+ wine in many vintages by James Suckling and Wine Spectator along with having won numerous Tre Bicchieri awards,which is one of the highly acclaimed awards for Italian wines.  The 2011 Saia was a deep ruby that consisted of black fruit, sweet spice and was a little peppery.  A dry wine with nice fruit, crisp and persistent on the finish.

I can't wait to share more wines and foods from Sicily over the next couple weeks and I know we'll have lots of great stories from the rest of our Italian bloggers group so come back or join us with your experiences live on twitter, #italianFWT! Have you been to Feudo Maccari or Noto, Sicily?

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Fattoria dei Barbi Brunello di Montalcino & Pappardelle with Bolognese

I was a little hesitant I must say to join the “Open that Bottle Night” for our Wine Pairing Weekend event. I always have a hard time opening bottles that are special to me that I have brought back from Italy after visiting the wineries. I'll always have the memories from that visit, but once the bottle is gone it's gone. It's crazy thinking I know. I can go back and always get another bottle, but I'm sure many can relate that it can be tough. Another worry is after sitting on a bottle for years will it even be good upon opening it. 

I decided to revisit a winery that I visited back in 2007, Fattoria dei Barbi in Montalcino within Tuscany. Fattoria dei Barbi is run today by Stefano Cinelli Colombini. The winery is on about 750 acres of land and their production is about 800,000 bottles with ¼ of those being Brunello di Montalcino. The winery still has bottles in their cellars bottles that date back to 1892. As you'll see from my pictures below there were bottles in dim red lighting from the 50's and 60's as well. I'd love to experience some of those older vintages to see how they have developed. One can dream.

Fattoria dei Barbi Cinelli Colombini family
Don't mind the old picture of me ; )
Slavonian oak barrels for Brunello di Montalcino
Large slavonian oak barrels of Fattoria dei Barbi
Wine cellar of Fattoria dei Barbi
According to their site, Fattoria dei Barbi is the leader in many firsts:
  • First to sell Brunello by mail (1832)
  • First to export Brunello to the USA (1962)
  • First single varietal grappa with Brunello (1974)
  • First to use carbon dioxide for cold fermentation with red wines (2000)

The Wine
I was patiently aging a 2000 Fattoria dei Barbi Brunello di Montalcino that I chose to open to share with you today. If you're not too familiar with Brunello di Montalcino it was a DOCG that was created in Tuscany in 1980. You may have heard of the 3 B's of Italian wines and that includes Barolo, Barbaresco and Brunello. These are some of the best wines in all of Italy. Sangiovese was definitely my first love when it came to Italian wine and as I began to discover how many clones of sangiovese there were back then and over time I discovered the amazing Brunello di Montalcino. 

This is a wine that is required by Italian law to be produced with 100% Sangiovese Grosso and to be aged a minimum of 2 years in barrel and 4 months in the bottle prior to release. It's a wine that can age for 15-20+ years depending on the producer, storage conditions and the vintage itself.

Brusco dei Barbi Super Tuscan
Brusco dei Barbi was their first “super tuscan” developed in 1969
1957 1959 1960 Fattoria dei Barbi Brunello
1962 1964 Fattoria dei Barbi Brunello di Montalcino
The long awaited moment had come where I opened and decanted my bottle of 2000 Fattoria dei Barbi Brunello di Montalcino.  Obviously it doesn't compare to the vintages that I shared with you in the pictures above, but we can't have it all, can we?  
The Fattoria dei Barbi Brunello di Montalcino was aged 2 years in large slavonian oak barrels showed above followed by 4 months aging in the bottle.  It's always amazing to me how a bottle with age can retain the characteristics they do when kept in the correct conditions.  When I brought this bottle back from Italy I put it away in my wine fridge and never touched it again.  Opening the bottle and pouring it into the decanter I then poured myself a few sips in anticipation to see how the bottle held up.  I was impressed by the acidity and fruit that were still in tact.  It was garnet in color with a slight hint of orange around the rim showing its age.  After about close to an hour of the wine decanting everything was beautifully integrated and turned into a very silky, smooth and beautifully aromatic wine of ripe cherries, more on the black cherry side with a hint of tobacco.  I sat there for awhile with my nose in the glass treasuring these moments as the nose was intense.
Wine Pairing with Brunello di Montalcino
If I had some of the foods that are accessible in Tuscany accessible here in the states I definitely would have chosen wild boar. It's one of my Tuscan favorites! My husband is a lover of pappardelle and I promised I'd bring him some back from my recent trip to Italy. 
With this Brunello di Montalcino I prepared a pappardelle with a bolognese sauce. You could also go for preparing it with braised beef as another option. One of the disappointing factors for me when I see pasta bolognese on a menu is whether or not it's produced in a true bolognese form. So many restaurants prepare it as an everyday meat sauce, but it's so much more. Every time I think of bolognese it brings me back to my travels to Bologna in the Emilia Romagna region during the same time when I also visited Fattoria dei Barbi. No one til this day has prepared a bolognese like that meal I experienced in Bologna, but it was coming from the source of Bologna so it's pretty hard to beat. No one knows how to make a meal than those of where the dish originates from.  
I decided to venture out and try preparing a different recipe and went with the recipe for Pappardelle with Bolognese Sauce from Williams Sonoma.  I used a pappardelle with truffles that had a hint of flavor that was just enough to complement the dish.  I topped the dish with an aged Tuscan pecorino, which is my favorite.  The elegance of the wine and the firm tannin combined with the rich bolognese sauce were a perfect combination.  It was an evening of smiles and full bellies and was very delightful. 
2000 Fattoria dei Barbi Brunello di Montalcinobolognese sauce
Pappardelle with bolognese saucePappardelle with trufflesPappardelle with bolognese and Brunello di Montalcino

Be sure to check out these special pairings from my fellow #winePW bloggers and their wonderful pairings for Open that Bottle Night! 

Culinary Adventures with Camilla paired Roasted Flank Steak with Goat Cheese and Caperberries + 2012 La Marea Mourvèdre 

Tasting Pour is sharing Chenin to Sheepie? Brava Cava! #Winewpw #OTBN 
Pull That Cork served Crozes Hermitage and Braised Lamb with Puréed Root Vegetables for #winePW 10 
Curious Cuisiniere paired Entrecote Bordelaise (Steak: Bordeaux Style) with Red Oak Vineyard Meritage A Day in the Life on the Farm served up Michigan Red with City Chicken 
Girls Gotta Drink is sharing A Priorat Wine Masterpiece: 1974 Scala Dei 
Grape Experiences is sharing Wine and Dine: 2012 Van Duzer Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and Chicken Breasts and Zucchini with Marjoram 
Wild 4 Washington Wine paired A Special Oregon Pinot Noir with Eastern North Carolina Inspired Ribs 
Rockin Red Blog is sharing Celebrating #OTBN on #WinePW 
Cooking Chat paired Avocado Chimichurri Beef Tenderloin with a Reininger Carmenere 
ENONFYLZ Wine Blog is sharing Friends, Food and Wine; An #OTBN To Remember #winePW. 

If you are catching this post early enough, you can join our live Twitter Chat on Saturday, March 14, at 11 a.m. ET, via the Twitter hashtag #winePW. If you’ve come to us after March 14, consider joining us for #winePW 11 focused on wine pairings for early spring vegetables hosted by A Day in the Life on the Farm on Saturday, April 11.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Canederli & Cantina di Montagna Muller Thurgau of the Trentino Alto Adige

Time is flying and we have covered about a quarter of Italy by now with our Italian Food, Wine & Travel (#ItalianFWT) group including Tuscany, Piedmont, Emilia Romagna, the Veneto and now today we talk about the Trentino-Alto Adige region. 

Fortunately, I just returned from this region a few weeks ago visiting the town of Trento, the capital of Trentino. Trentino-Alto Adige is considered 1 region, but the southern part is Trentino and the northern part is Alto Adige and they both have their respective capitals with Bolzano serving as the capital of the Alto Adige. 

This is the 2nd alpine region of northern Italy I have visited and am in love with the way the mountain ranges dominate over the valleys and small villages. The air is crisp, clean and there is no better way to enjoy the outdoors and peace and quiet than in regions such as this.

Trento in Trentino, Italy

I ventured to the town of Trento by train, which was only about an hour on the train coming from Verona where I was based. I love being able to wake up in the morning and jump on a train making it easy to enjoy a multitude of regions and towns conveniently. Trento is an easily walkable town in the downtown center much closed off by cars. I first started my journey around the city center from the Piazza Duomo, a magnificent large square with the Fountain of Neptune serving as the center and the a tower and church as the borders along with cafes and shops with the Dolomite mountains as a backdrop. It doesn't get much better than this to start with a deep breath and enjoy the surroundings.

Piazza Duomo & Neptune Fountain Trento, Italy
Piazza Duomo ~ Trento
Here are some of my highlights architecturally of Trento that I enjoyed.

Buonconsiglio Castle Museum Trento
Buonconsiglio Castle Museum
Buonconsiglio Castle in Trento

Duomo in Trento, Italy
Duomo ~ Trento
Trento of Trentino Alto Adige region

After exploring and wandering throughout the day and taking in the sites and prior to my return in Verona I took a much needed rest and stumbled upon a place called Duo. Duo serves as a restaurant downstairs and upstairs where I enjoyed window side seating at the bar that serves a variety of tapas, which is always so fun especially when you are getting a feel for what a regions cuisine has to offer. I decided to go with a dish typical to the Trentino region, which was canederli. Canederli are small dumplings made with stale bread and speck. If you aren't familiar with speck it's a ham that is salt cured and smoked. It's a simple cuisine that can be enjoyed by itself as I had or in a soup.

Canederli dumplings with Muller Thurgau
Canederli with Muller Thurgau
 The Trentino-Alto Adige has many Germanic influences and this can be discovered by the grapes found in this region. Enjoying my canederli I chose a local white wine, 2013 Cembra Cantina di Montagna Muller Thurgau Vigna delle Forche. This particular winery located in the Cembra Valley is set up high on the Trentino mountains making for very difficult harvesting. The winery is a cooperative that consists of about 400 growers that was established in 1952. This area is home to a special type of red rock known as porphyry. The Muller Thurgau of Cembra Cantina di Montagna was fresh, crisp with lots of minerality balanced with good fruit and some slight herbal notes.

2013 Cembra Cantina di Montagna Muller Thurgau
Don’t stop here. We have lots more great information to share with you on the Trentino-Alto Adige region. Join the rest of our Italian bloggers group: 

FoodWineClickTrentino-Alto Adige is Different: Goulash and Teroldego  
Orna O’ReillyThe Italian Dolomites: A Foodie’s Paradise 
Rockin Red BlogWine and Dine in Trentino-Alto Adige with #ItalianFWT 
Enofylz Wine BlogA Taste of Alto Adige – Cantina Terlano Classico  
Cooking Chat - Italian wine with Indian Curry  
The Palladian Traveler - Under Doctor’s Orders in the Trentino 

Make sure to join us live on Twitter today and throughout the weekend at #ItalianFWT to chat about the Trentino-Alto Adige region and your experiences. We can’t wait to hear from you. Check back at #ItalianFWT throughout the month as well for additional blogs on food, wine and travel of Italy. Next month on April 4th we feature Sicily so stay tuned. Ciao ciao!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Italian Food, Wine & Travel features Trentino-Alto Adige

Welcome to our 5th Italian Food, Wine & Travel (#ItalianFWT) group and since we're still in winter I figured let's escape to the northern regions of Italy.  If you're in the Boston area where I reside, folks are hoping we're out of it sooner than later due to the enormous amount of snow this winter, but I personally love the snow.   One of the beauties for myself of northern Italy is the alpine landscape that dominates over many of the villages as you get closer and closer to the borders of Switzerland and Austria.  There is nothing like those snow capped peaks over the valleys and towns.
Trento in Trentino Italy
My recent trip to Trento
This Saturday, March 7th, the #ItalianFWT group is featuring the Trentino-Alto Adige region in northeastern Italy.  There will be a large variety of Food, Wine and Travel discussed from this wonderful region that is often less explored than the others, but has much to offer.  Here is a preview of what is to come later in the week.  We hope you join us back here and live on twitter Saturday and throughout the weekend at #ItalianFWT.  Our features will be:

Vino Travels - Canederli & Muller Thurgau of Trento
FoodWineClick - Trentino-Alto Adige is Different: Goulash and Teroldego
Orna O'Reilly - The Italian Dolomites: A Foodie's Paradise
Rockin Red Blog - Wine and Dine in Trentino-Alto Adige with #ItalianFWT
Enofylz Wine Blog - A Taste of Alto Adige - Cantina Terlano Classico
Cooking Chat - Italian wine with Indian Curry
The Palladian Traveler - Under Doctor's Orders in the Trentino

Map of Trentino Alto Adige
Compliments of

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Unique varietals of Italy with Mucci Imports

One of the reasons why I chose to write this Italian wine blog are to educate on the Italian grapes produced throughout Italy that many folks aren't aware of or super familiar with, myself included.  With hundreds and hundreds of grape varietals throughout Italy it's hard to know every one and that's what makes drinking wine so fun. You may try a grape in one region that can be very different in another as well based on the Italian terroir that I recently discussed in one of my recent articles last week.
Nick Mucci of Mucci Imports
Nick Mucci
Today I wanted to introduce you to Nick Mucci of Mucci Imports.  I've met Nick a number of times at wine tastings in the Boston area.  

Mucci Imports, owned by Nick Mucci, is a Boston based Italian wine importer specializing in unique Italian varietals from producers he has hand picked throughout his travels from living in Italy and developing special relationships with the winemakers.  Nick first started Mucci Imports in 2013 towards the end of the summer.  When I first met Nick he was introducing his wines to folks at Ball Square Fine Wines in Somerville and I was intrigued by his selections when I saw the announcement.  Being an Italian wine blogger I love the opportunity to try Italian wines, nevermind those that are unique to Italy that are sometimes hard to find over here in the states. 

With Nick being of Italian heritage, both Sicilian and Abruzzi, and growing up in an Italian household, the excitement of Italy and all things Italian is what built up throughout his life.  His Italian heritage is one of the reasons that got Nick to want to live abroad where he moved to Italy for over 3 years.  From living in Italy and experiencing the Italian lifestyle, it became the driving force completely for what he is doing now.  When Nick moved over to Italy  he lived in Rome and taught English.  After living 2 years in Rome Nick enrolled in the MBA program of food and wine at the University of Bologna where he studied for a year.   There he developed further relationships with professors, other students and designed his wine importing business plan.   

Nick Mucci of Mucci Imports

While living abroad with his girlfriend they would travel and get lost and come upon festivals, sagre, where he met not only wine producers, but cheese and olive oil producers as well.  All his travel while living in Italy was food and wine based to some capacity.  From meeting these producers the people and relationships that he built along with the welcoming aspect of the people were one of the greatest satisfactions for Nick.  He was welcomed with open arms.  Speaking the language and understanding the culture helped him relate to them.  When he came back to Boston to visit family he wasn't seeing in restaurants or shops any of the wines locally that he was experiencing for himself in Italy creating even more a reason to start Mucci Imports. 

Mucci Imports currently works with about 12-15 producers and imports from regions including Emilia Romagna, Piedmont, the Veneto, Tuscany, Abruzzo (where Nick has cousins that make wine), Campania and Sicily.   Originally Nick wanted to start all with Sicilian wines since he has a lot of passion for this region.  A lot of the wineries Nick works with are quite small.  The wines that he imports and sells are not what the masses are typically looking for.  In educating his buyers and their customers he further hopes to make these wines more appreciated and known.  That is what drives Nick every day to promote the wines of Italy. 

Growing up around this area Nick has focused his efforts on selling wine in and around the Boston area.  You can find some of his  wines at restaurants including Giulia's in Cambridge, Coppa in the South End  and Pastoral Pizza in Fort Point.  You can also located them in your local wine shops including Ball Square Fine Wines in Somerville, Social Wines in South Boston and Federal Wine & Spirits on State Street downtown.

I've written about one of his wines in the recent past when my Italian bloggers group (Italian Food, Wine & Travel, #italianFWT) wrote about the Emilia Romagna region.